Title: Dynasties of innovation: highly performing German family firms and the owners' role for innovation

Authors: Marc-Michael H. Bergfeld, Felix-Michael Weber

Addresses: Munich Business School, Elsenheimerstr. 61, D-80687, Munich, Germany. ' Elephant Equity GmbH, Triftstr. 13, D-80538, Munich, Germany

Abstract: At least 70% of all large and old German corporations are still controlled by the owning families. Studies have found that these firms can be successful in adapting to changing environments and innovating in a sustainable way over more than 100 years. Innovative dynasties outperform publicly listed companies. This paper looks at the owning families| influence on the innovativeness of their companies. In qualitative interviews, it investigates the innovative behaviour of dynastic families across generations: their attitude towards innovation, their time-orientation herein and their approaches to ensure innovativeness in their firms over the mid- to long-term. In summary, successful dynastic families define innovation as the ability to constantly address new markets and technologies, based on a clear long-term strategy. The owning families assure constant incremental innovation in daily operations and, even more importantly, initiate radical innovations and corporate renewal as strategy-setting entities |behind the scenes|.

Keywords: family firms; dynasties; corporate development; corporate strategy; business performance; adaptability; changing environments; public companies; innovativeness; familial generations; time-orientation; dynastic families; new markets; new technologies; long-term strategies; incremental innovation; daily operations; radical innovations; corporate renewal; strategy-setting entities; company ownership; family control; Germany; Borgers; Cofra Holding; Gutermann; Merck; Wacker Construction Equipment; Henkel; Franz Haniel; Giesecke; Devrient; entrepreneurship; innovation management; entrepreneurial behaviour; family businesses.

DOI: 10.1504/IJEIM.2011.038449

International Journal of Entrepreneurship and Innovation Management, 2011 Vol.13 No.1, pp.80 - 94

Published online: 07 Feb 2011 *

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